Nam Enegry Crunch to Ease


Windhoek – Namibia Power Corp’s coal-fired Van Eck power station, which has been undergoing refurbishment since 2012, would be back on the grid by December, as Namibia steps up efforts to ease dependency on imported electricity.

The state-owned power utility says it will start running the first unit at its coal-fired 120-megawatt Van Eck power plant on September 15, and will subsequently bring back the remaining three units up to December.

Van Eck power plant, would have Unit 4 running next week, Unit 3 in mid-October, units 2 and 1 in November and mid-December, respectively, spokesperson, Tangeni Kambangula, has said in an interview recently.

The restart of the plant, which is situated in Windhoek’s northern industrial area and was undergoing refurbishment at a cost of R300 million, has been delayed after some faults were discovered. “The power station is very old and some hidden faults came up during the run up of Unit 4 and these had to be corrected. These faults were not part of the initial scope of work included in the refurbishment work. These were ultimately the cause for delays on the project,” Kambangula said.

A net electricity importer, Nampower, says it will run Van Eck at full generation capacity when required. “We will, however, determine how and when the station will be run and at what output to balance power demand with the available cheaper supply options,” Kambangula said.

Nampower, which sometimes imports up to 60 percent of its electricity from utilities in Southern Africa, also runs the Ruacana hydro power station, in the northern parts of the country, whose capacity is affected when water levels in the river go down, especially in dry seasons.

“Van Eck will not be started and switched off at short intervals as in the past as such methods of operations are very detrimental to the machines. As a result, the decision to start the power station will result in prolonged periods of operation albeit at different load levels,” Kambangula said.

Despite the delays in restarting the plant, Van Eck’s refurbishment is “still within the approved budget and will in all probability complete within budget,” Kambangula said.

Nampower, which is seeking to expand generation capacity to meet rising demand and curb reliance on imported electricity, also says it will announce a winning bidder for a 250MW power plant in October.

The national power utility will own a 30-percent stake in the plant, which is expected to use either natural gas or liquid fuels for electricity generation, Kambangula said.

“Out of the 31 candidates that participated in the expression of interest, six bidders were shortlisted to participate in the request for proposals.

“The request for proposal closes on September 12 after which the proposals will be evaluated and a preferred bidders and reserve bidder will be nominated. It is expected that this process will be completed sometime in October,” Kambangula said.

Nampower wants the 250MW power plant, in which it will own a 30 percent stake, to plug power supply deficit that it is currently experiencing, until its 1 050MW Kudu gas-to-power plant starts generation early 2018. From 2018, Nampower plans to run the plant as a back-up generational plant, the power utility says.

Nampower is pushing through plans for Kudu, which will generate as much as 1 050MW using combined cycle turbine technology, tapping natural gas from the massive Kudu fields, about 200 kilometres off the southern town of Oranjemund.

The plant, in which Nampower owns a 51-percent stake, will cost around US$1.3 billion, managing director Paulinus Shilamba said recently.

Zambia’s Copperbelt Energy Corporation earlier this year bought a 30-percent stake in the Kudu plant and has agreed to purchase up to 300MW. Namibia says that electricity supplies will remain critical until Kudu comes on stream in 2018.

September 2014
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